The future of learning objects

Wayne Hodgins normally gets to give this talk, but in a few weeks it will be my turn. In preparation for a talk to be delivered at the Singapore National Learning Objects Conference, I did a survey of people I follow, what they?re doing relating to online teaching and learning, and looked for trends…

  • Wayne Hodgins is talking about MOTO (metadata, objects, taxonomies, and ontologies), standards and specifications (IEEE, IMS, SCORM, etc.), and mass contribution for mass personalization.
  • Andy Gibbons is talking about the fact that all instructional designs are multilayered constructions and that we need to articulate and better understand those layers (content, strategy, interface, representation, etc.)
  • Dave Merrill is talking about getting back to basics with his idea of first principles and five star ratings (real-world problem, activate prior knowledge, present / demonstrate, allow practice and provide feedback, promote integration and transfer).
  • Stephen Downes and the edubloggers are talking about making finding and connecting easier through syndication technologies like RSS, hooking things up to OAI, and exploring what can happen when you harvest lots of interesting data.
  • Brent Lambert is talking about the semantic web and necessary changes to learning objects themselves and their metadata to allow inferences and other instructionally useful computations to be made over distributed content collections.
  • Mike Hannafin and Janette Hill are talking about resource-based learning environments (RBLEs) in which the main job of the designer / instructor is to identify interesting problems, correctly select and configure resources to support their solutions, and support students in the problem-solving process.
  • I am still talking about informal learning in online social groups supported by digital resources and communications tools, and right to education issues (if I didn?t think my stuff was interesting, who would?).

After some thought, I think there are some interesting trends emerging here. I?m only dumping this to the blog before making slides because I don?t know that I?ve heard anyone describe a grouping of future -ilities like this.

  • Separability ? delivery media independent representations of content which can be compiled at need-time for a specific platform (web, print, phone, pda, desktop, IM, &c.)
  • Computability ? taxonomical / ontological information captured in metadata to support inferencing, computation, and topical recommendation (semantic web, &c.)
  • Sociability ? conversation as learning context, weak connections to multiple interest groups, spontaneous connections to transient interest groups, social recommendation of content
  • Sharability ? content simple to find, create, and access (MIT/OCW, blogs, RSS/OAI, Trackback)
  • Helpability ? content and conversations sought and engaged at need-time

As USU students would say, since I have chocolate hammer everything looks like a chocolate nail. However, I think these trends interact favorably with our current projects. Individually explicating the themes will take some time, and describing the soup that results from mixing them in a medium heat sauce pan for 8 minutes will take even longer (and consequently will have to wait for another time).